John’s Baptism was a baptism representing repentance, getting Israel ready for the coming of their King. It wasn’t the full revelation of what baptism was about.
This does not mean that there was something wrong with John’s baptism. Jesus asks some testing people if John’s baptism was from heaven or from men. The obvious implied answer is that it was from heaven.
John’s baptism was part of the revelation of the Messiah, the prophet would come first and get people ready. John did that. This was God’s ministry for John. It was a divine and spiritual thing.
It wasn’t the whole thing though.
Paul in Acts 19 asks some people “What baptism did you receive?” Their answer was “John’s.” Paul did not lecture them for having been baptized by John or find fault with it. Instead he said “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
So that’s pretty cool. You have the Bible explicitly telling you what John’s baptism was all about. I wish the Bible plainly defined things like that more often!
Paul explained John’s baptism, then brought them up to a better baptism, known because of new information as part of progressive revelation. “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Being baptized in Jesus’ name is better. John was a guy preparing the way for Jesus. Jesus has been and is the thing everything points to. Move on to Him.
Then notice that right after their baptism in the name of Jesus they received the Holy Spirit by Paul laying hands on them. Baptism and the Spirit are closely linked, which backs up one of our introductory ideas, which is nice.
When Jesus Christ gave His final commission to His followers He said “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is the baptism of Jesus Christ. It’s not a preparation for the Christ; it’s an introduction to life with Him. This idea will be expounded on more as we get further into the New Testament’s progressive revelation.
Just baptizing them wasn’t all they were supposed to do in the commission, Jesus adds “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Solely getting dunked in water by someone talking about the Trinity isn’t enough; it’s not the whole thing. Obeying and following Jesus in a new life is the entirety.
Getting wet doesn’t save you. Faith does. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing is the essence of obeying. This faithful obedience is possible only by spiritual rebirth. Baptism has stuff to do with this as we will see more as the New Testament continues.